The Rogue Speaks:
Today’s word is SKITOMA. By definition, it is the phenomenon of mental misperception. The brain is fooled by the eyes, for the eyes see what they believe to be true. If you are a famous artist, you can get away with this. Michelangelo got away with it in his statue, “David.” The average person who views this piece may comment on the hands, which are out of proportion to the rest of the body. We artists don’t notice that unless it is pointed out to us, and Michelangelo probably didn’t notice it until after the fact. Since super glue had not yet been invented, and his hands were probably blistered from all that hard work, or he DIDN’T notice it, David remains exactly as he created it.
If you are not a famous artist, you can’t get away with proportional errors in your work. People will notice it every time! People will whisper to each other about how strange it is that one foot is bigger than the other, or that one eye is looking at the person standing way over by the door, while the other eye is looking at you. That is why critiques are so vital to our work.
Yesterday we had a wonderful critique at the Guild meeting. Led by Mo Greene, our Critique Chair, his team once again made us feel good about ourselves, and about our endeavors. His team’s sage advice is delivered gently and professionally, and not only gives us food for thought, but makes us want to go home and apply what we have learned.
I NEED this stuff to make me a better painter. Mo has such vast knowledge about what makes work successful, and his experienced critiquers add to that mix to bring us another viewpoint and more food for thought.
Mo is a retired cancer specialist as well as being the publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine, and an accomplished artist, so he can give us a lot of physiological pointers to make our work jump out and grab the viewer in ways we would have never thought of on our own. I just eat that kind of stuff up! Learning about the rods and cones in the eye satisfies my secret desire to have become a scientist in my former life. I always learn something at these sessions, and hope that I can be skilled enough to apply it to my art.
Don’t think people won’t notice when you have skitoma! I guarantee they will! I once completed an entire painting only to discover that the horizon was slanted. Skitoma kept me from seeing that until it was in the hands of my friend, for whom I had painted it. I saw a rather blank look on her face, only for a second. But I knew! I was mortified! Should I take it back and fix it? Or should I laugh and tell her my viewpoint is always a little slanted? She took the painting and immediately put it on her wall. It is still there. Most people don’t love you enough to do that.
If you want to see more of Mo’s work, click on: http://www.harrygreenefinearts.com/artist.htm